define

verb
de·​fine | \ di-ˈfīn How to pronounce define (audio) \
defined; defining

Definition of define

transitive verb

1a : to determine or identify the essential qualities or meaning of whatever defines us as human
b : to discover and set forth the meaning of (something, such as a word) how the dictionary defines "grotesque"
c computing : to create with established rules or parameters define a window define a procedure
2a : to fix or mark the limits of : demarcate rigidly defined property lines
b : to make distinct, clear, or detailed especially in outline the issues aren't too well defined eyes defined by mascara
3 : characterize, distinguish you define yourself by the choices you makeDenison Univ. Bull. the moment that defined the campaign

intransitive verb

: to make a definition (see definition sense 1a)

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Other Words from define

definement \ -​ˈfīn-​mənt How to pronounce definement (audio) \ noun
definer \ -​ˈfī-​nər How to pronounce definer (audio) \ noun

Examples of define in a Sentence

a term that is difficult to define The government study seeks to define urban poverty. Her book aims to define acceptable social behavior. She believes that success should be defined in terms of health and happiness. That fence defines the far edge of the property.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Hair Baubles Dazzle From Every Angle From the catwalks to the streets, a deluge of hair accessories defined the month. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "9 Beauty Trends That Blew Up on the Fall 2019 Runways," 8 Mar. 2019 Of course the boundaries of space differ, depending on who's defining space. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Virgin Galactic Reaches the Edge of Space—This Time With a Passenger in Tow," 22 Feb. 2019 What Is Eyebrow Tinting? Eyebrow tinting is the process of applying semi-permanent dye to enhance, shape, and define your brows. Audrey Noble, Harper's BAZAAR, "What is Eyebrow Tinting, Anyway?," 1 Feb. 2019 The Arusha Court The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda was established in Arusha, Tanzania, by the United Nations’ Security Council, and played a key role in defining the concept of genocide. Caterina Clerici & Eléonore Hamelin, Marie Claire, "Rwanda's Future Is Female," 1 Feb. 2019 And that’s just as well because one of those sisters, Anissa Rodriguez, left the fold in 2016 But they're still fronted by Alexia Rodriguez, whose powerful clean vocals have defined their sound from the beginning. Ed Masley, azcentral, "Phoenix local music picks: Anarbor, Eyes Set to Kill, Fayuca, Jared & the Mill, Bear Ghost," 7 July 2018 Every region of the world produces geniuses of all colors and genders who define their own vernacular, changing our world one brick at a time. Charles Curkin, ELLE Decor, "The 2019 ELLE Decor Architecture A-List," 5 Feb. 2019 The clue lies in how Insider Build 18323, released Thursday evening, is defined as the release branch of Windows 10—a near-final, bug-bashing development stage. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Windows 10's April 2019 Update should be as straightforward as its name," 25 Jan. 2019 This question is complicated because it is individually defined and depends on the therapy modality. SELF, "How Can You Tell if Therapy Is Actually Working?," 11 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'define.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of define

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for define

Middle English diffinen, defynen, borrowed from Anglo-French definer, diffiner, borrowed (with conjugation change) from Medieval Latin dēfīnīre, diffīnīre (dif- by association with dif-, assimilated form of dis- dis-), going back to Latin dēfīnīre "to mark the limits of, determine, give an exact description of," from dē- de- + fīnīre "to mark out the boundaries of, limit" — more at finish entry 1

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Statistics for define

Last Updated

12 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for define

The first known use of define was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for define

define

verb

English Language Learners Definition of define

: to explain the meaning of (a word, phrase, etc.)
: to show or describe (someone or something) clearly and completely
: to show the shape, outline, or edge of (something) very clearly

define

verb
de·​fine | \ di-ˈfīn How to pronounce define (audio) \
defined; defining

Kids Definition of define

1 : to explain the meaning of define a word
2 : to make clear especially in outline Your responsibilities are defined in the handout.

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More from Merriam-Webster on define

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with define

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for define

Spanish Central: Translation of define

Nglish: Translation of define for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of define for Arabic Speakers

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